From March Madness to Winnipeg: Sea Bears welcome new basketball court

Shawn Atamanchuck carefully uses black paint to colour the key on the Winnipeg Sea Bears’ new basketball court.

“Once we are done painting at the end of this week we will put on three coats of finish,” said Atamanchuick, who’s the owner of Big Sky Enterprise.

He’s been working tirelessly on the finishing touches to make sure the court is ready for its new era.

“This is not even a once-in-a-generation thing, this is a once-in-maybe-three-generation kind of opportunity we have here,” Adam Wedlake, the executive director of Basketball Manitoba, said.

Basketball Manitoba and the Sea Bears made the rare purchase of the world-class court that will serve the community for decades to come.

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“This court here is from Cleveland. It was used as one of the support courts at the women’s March Madness NCAA tournament last month,” Wedlake said.

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The new hardwood replaces the previous court that was used for more than 60 years.

It served iconic purposes such as being the home of the Winnipeg Cyclone and Thunder, the floor at the Pan Am Games and the centre stage of a few NBA exhibition games.

“It’s a great opportunity for the city and a great opportunity for us to upgrade,” Jason Smith, president of the Sea Bears, said. “Basketball is a big part of the community locally and a new court is a great opportunity to continue that legacy on.”

The new court is also expected to open more doors.

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“There have been events we have missed on bringing to Winnipeg,” Wedlake said.

Wedlake and Smith would like to see world-class basketball events come back to the city.

“We are hoping to bid on a bunch of stuff and see if we can get some additional games over the winter here,” Smith said.

As for the old court, it’s off to Dauphin for the Manitoba Summer games.

“After that, it’s a great question,” Wedlake said. “We don’t know yet. It still has a little bit of life in it.”

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As for the new court, once Atamanchuck and his team finish painting, it will be transported to the Canada Life Centre and will be ready to go for the Sea Bears’ first home game of the season on Friday, May 24.

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